Supreme Court case plaintiffs may benefit from Obamacare

'Hospitals will treat him, leaving us to pay the bill.'

Guest Column: Joan Retsinas
As Obamacare wends its way through the judicial labyrinth, let’s glance at the plaintiffs. Not the state attorneys general. Not the small-business federations. But the all-American Joes and Janes named in the suits. They don’t want Uncle Sam to force them to buy health insurance. More

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OP-ED

Supreme Court case plaintiffs may benefit from Obamacare

'Hospitals will treat him, leaving us to pay the bill.'

Guest Column: Joan Retsinas
Posted 4/9/12

As Obamacare wends its way through the judicial labyrinth, let’s glance at the plaintiffs. Not the state attorneys general. Not the small-business federations. But the all-American Joes and Janes named in the suits. They don’t want Uncle Sam to force them to buy health insurance.

One plaintiff, Mary Brown, considered insurance a burden she didn’t need, didn’t want.

A lot has happened since Floridian Brown signed on as a plaintiff. Her auto-repair business failed. In September she filed for bankruptcy. Among her bills: $4,700 for medical expenses. Admittedly, those bills – $4,700 is minuscule by medical-bill standards – did not drive her into bankruptcy, though medical bills do propel many Americans down that route.

But hospitals, physicians and the rest of us must absorb those bills. Mary Brown, moreover, was fortunate: a cardiac operation, an appendectomy, a year of chemotherapy would have sunk her into a fiscal abyss.

Meet Charles Edward Lee. His take: God, not Uncle Sam, will provide. By “provide” he includes not just spiritual well-being, but physical and financial too. Unfortunately, God didn’t oversee Charles Lee’s finances, or maybe bankruptcy was part of the divine plan.

His Texas-based lawn and tree service failed. In September 2009 he too filed for bankruptcy. If catastrophe befalls him – he slips on a banana peel, a drunken driver rams into his car, the stomach ache turns out to be a tumor – Charles Edward Lee will accept the consequences. According to his lawyer, he wants only prayer, not treatment. But if he were to change his mind, hospitals and clinics would treat him, leaving the rest of us to pay those bills.

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